Lunch Out -n- Men Don’t Giggle

I scanned the landscape ahead for dynamic scenes. It wasn’t difficult. Large, fluffy clouds draped the sky. Lush field grasses satisfied cattle. Hillside oaks exposed twisted limbs, some budded out. The ride along Highway 88 was the first outing since my surgery that didn’t involve a doctor’s appointment.

It was Joe’s idea to eat lunch out. As much as I loved the suggestion, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. Would the 52-mile round-trip wipe me out? I was doing much better, but the memory of bad days after doing too much on good days flashed through my mind.

At that moment, it was easy to think only of myself. Until I looked into Joe’s brown eyes, hungry for a meal he didn’t have to plan, figure out how to prepare, then eat it.

So, the choice whether to go was fraught because my husband deserved a break.

He spent weeks caring for me… plus, the hens, steers, cat, dog, and the yard. He helped me get up and down, administered meds, kept the house clean, our clothes laundered, and dished up store-bought rotisserie chicken, deli soup, scrambled eggs, cold cereal, and hot green tea in a mug served on a dessert plate.

His favorite quotes were, “Can I offer you a hot beverage?” (Borrowed from The Big Bang Theory) and, “My work is never done.” (That one’s from me. Joe even mimicked my dramatic sigh.)

I grabbed my camera and settled in the car with a pillow tucked between my belly and the seat belt. It was a lovely spring day for photography. Despite dirty, spotted windows from recent rains and doggy nose smudges, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to play photographer.

I set my camera to sports mode. This feature works marginally well for moving objects or on this occasion a moving car. Once I spotted a desirable vista, I aimed my camera lens, careful to keep the nose smudges and side mirror out of view. I had to act fast, anticipate speed and distance between the utility poles. Then press the shutter release button without hesitating. I was having so much fun, at some point, I giggled.

“What’s so funny?” Joe asked.

I smiled. “I don’t know.” How could I explain the renewed partnership between nature and my camera or the joy that offset my doubts?

Two hours later, we had finished our delicious meal. Joe consumed his first, plus a few bites of mine, and a bulky chocolate cake. He leaned back in the restaurant chair with a contented grin. It was then that I realized he understood my giggle.

We didn’t talk about it.

Men don’t giggle.

But his suggestion gave us a much-needed break and a boost of well-being.



Photo of the Month

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.” –Helen Keller

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Stories of Grace and Hope

Kindle   –    Nook

Photo of the Month: The Christmas Star


We have reached the last 2018 Photo of the Month. I hope my images and books have somehow inspired you to press forward in your journey with family, friends, work, personal goals, God, and the gifts He challenged you to use.

Photography, writing, and loved ones are the joy that presses against my heart. Each keeps me moving forward when I feel defeated, betrayed, or disappointed in others or myself.

I recently read…

 I’d like to add…

Remember this as you look upon a poinsettia resembling the Star of Bethlehem which led the Magi to the Christ Child. Ponder for a moment, the thousands of generations and hundreds of thousands of times God has forgiven the sins of mankind, then brought to us the baby Jesus. Envision being prompt to follow a single star, the opposing views of others, the obstacles, doubt, and fears the Magi must have experienced along the way. Consider God’s unwavering faith and guidance of the wise men’s quest to complete their mission.

The Magi didn’t quit on themselves because God never quit on them.

I pray, you too will know God’s grace and hope in the coming year while pressing forward in your journey with family, friends, work, and the gifts God challenges you to use.

*Author unknown



God Showed up at the Thrift Store

Most of us have longed to own something but couldn’t acquire it for different reasons.

Too expensive.

No place to keep it.

The kids need new shoes.

The electric bill is due.

It’s not essential.

 He remembers the red heels you tried on but didn’t purchase. He understands your dream to grow the beautiful flowers pictured in seed catalogs. And the food processor? He remembers that too.

So it was with me when God showed up at the thrift store.

I was browsing the used books when I read the words Tasha Tudor on the spine of a coffee table volume. I gasped then snatched it up like a thief. The store had an usual number of book shoppers that day. I didn’t want to make a scene with my zealous excitement, so I scurried around the corner to look inside. It was in mint condition. It was beautiful.

I first learned about Tasha Tudor years ago when Victoria magazine featured her several times as a children’s author, illustrator, and fervent gardener. Looking at the slick pages, I’d drool over her lush landscape and the delightful art I could only dream of owning.

Years had passed since I thought of Tasha Tudor, then that day in the thrift store she came to life once more. I realized, perhaps for the first time, God remembers what matters to me.

I purchased the $30 Tasha Tudor’s Garden hardcover for a buck.

We never know when something we once longed for will come to us years later.


Stories of Grace and Hope

Kindle   –    Nook

Photo of the Month

This image is NOT in my Photo Gallery but it CAN BE ORDERED by including the title “November Fog” when completing the order form at the bottom of the page.

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Stories of Grace and Hope

Kindle   –    Nook

The Value of Flowers


They make one smile, inhale (okay, sometimes sneeze), and accept an apology from the man in our life…even though we may not want to.


They brighten, decorate, and fill empty spaces…even though we know it’s temporary.


They bring about introductions, conversations, and memorable dates…even though we’re unsure.


They bring to us all the gifts listed above and much more…even though we don’t always deserve them.


About these photos: The images were taken at the Primitive Barn’s Final Flea Market for the year in the tiny drive-through town of Linden, California. La Loretta’s Floral Truck was a vendor at the event.


Stories of Grace and Hope

Kindle   –    Nook



Photo of the Month

This image is not in my Photo Gallery but it can be ordered by including the title “Country Sky” when completing the order form at the bottom of the page.

Thank you for stopping by.  You can comment below, or join Dianne Marie Andre’s  Facebook pagePinterest Boards, or do all three!

Photo of the Month


This image is not in my Photo Gallery but it can be ordered by including the title “Highway 88 Vineyard” when completing the order form.

Thank you for stopping by. You can comment below, or join fellow readers and sharers of grace and hope on Dianne Marie Andre’s  Facebook pagePinterest Boards, or all three!

10 Tips to Lift your Spirit and Live your Best Life

If you’re feeling sad, lonely, or defeated here are a few suggestions that may help you regain a spirit of peace, grace, hope, or joy:

  • Talk to someone trustworthy about how you feel.
  • Think of one tiny step you can take toward a goal and do it.
  • ENGAGE IN A FUN ACTIVITY you enjoy. It could be as simple as baking cookies or painting your toenails.

  • Read a funny book and LAUGH OUT LOUD.
  • Revisit fun childhood songs and SING OUT LOUD.
  • Take a walk with your camera or cell phone and CAPTURE IMAGES that make you feel happy.

  • Write a gratitude list, past and present.
  • Stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eyes, and say, “God made me glorious therefore I am glorious,” until you BELIEVE IT. Repeat daily every time you feel sad, lonely, or defeated.
  • Shake your booty … DANCE TO UPBEAT MUSIC.

ABOUT THIS POST: After receiving tragic news, I couldn’t focus. So I wrote this post hoping to reach out to others who may need a nudge to live their best life. Sometimes, it just takes knowing you’re not alone. When I finished writing, I was surprised by the turnabout results: My spirits had lifted.

So, I thought I’d share one last suggestion, one you’ve probably been told to do or read about. But oftentimes, the pain is so heavy you can’t get past it. Or you don’t believe anything will help.

Well, I’m here to tell you this does help:

Do something for someone else.

It doesn’t have to be big. You can do it right from your home or workplace.

Give a compliment. Email an uplifting quote.

Use your cell phone and send a funny face.

Then, embrace a spirit of peace, grace, hope, and joy.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Tell us what helps you.